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Supercharging Android: Google to Acquire Motorola Mobility ;).

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Since its launch in November 2007, Android has not only dramatically increased consumer choice but also improved the entire mobile experience for users. Today, more than 150 million Android devices have been activated worldwide—with over 550,000 devices now lit up every day—through a network of about 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers in 123 countries. Given Android’s phenomenal success, we are always looking for new ways to supercharge the Android ecosystem. That is why I am so excited today to announce that we have agreed to acquire Motorola

Motorola has a history of over 80 years of innovation in communications technology and products, and in the development of intellectual property, which have helped drive the remarkable revolution in mobile computing we are all enjoying today. Its many industry milestones include the introduction of the world’s first portable cell phone nearly 30 years ago, and the StarTAC—the smallest and lightest phone on earth at time of launch. In 2007, Motorola was a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance that worked to make Android the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. I have loved my Motorola phones from the StarTAC era up to the current DROIDs.

In 2008, Motorola bet big on Android as the sole operating system across all of its smartphone devices. It was a smart bet and we’re thrilled at the success they’ve achieved so far. We believe that their mobile business is on an upward trajectory and poised for explosive growth.

Motorola is also a market leader in the home devices and video solutions business. With the transition to Internet Protocol, we are excited to work together with Motorola and the industry to support our partners and cooperate with them to accelerate innovation in this space.

Motorola’s total commitment to Android in mobile devices is one of many reasons that there is a natural fit between our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers everywhere.

This acquisition will not change our commitment to run Android as an open platform. Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. We will run Motorola as a separate business. Many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing to work with all of them to deliver outstanding user experiences.

We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community” and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.

The combination of Google and Motorola will not only supercharge Android, but will also enhance competition and offer consumers accelerating innovation, greater choice, and wonderful user experiences. I am confident that these great experiences will create huge value for shareholders.

I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.

Posted by Larry Page, CEO

Who said? Larry Page said ;).
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Written by Syafirul Ramli>>

August 16, 2011 at 10:34 AM

Posted in Android, Google

Wi-Fi cars hitting the information superhighway ;).

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Ford's Wi-Fi system called MyFord Touch is added to its SYNC connectivity for mobile phones and music players

More cars are hitting the information superhighway thanks to new automotive Wi-Fi technology that allows vehicles to become rolling “hot spots.”

Analysts say consumers are warming to the notion of more connectivity in their cars, with “apps” for information and entertainment just as they have with their smartphones or tablet computers.

“Initially, putting Internet access in the car sounds like a distraction and frivolous but as time passes it will become a part of our lives and we will feel uncomfortable not having access,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecoms analyst.

“I think this is going to grow into a vibrant sector.”

Market research firm iSuppli said it expects a surge in worldwide shipments of car Wi-Fi systems to 7.2 million units by 2017, from just 174,000 in 2010.

Wi-Fi has been around for several years as an aftermarket accessory but many major manufacturers now offer some form of Wi-Fi or are developing it.

Ford has been offering Wi-Fi in selected models since 2010 and some form of Internet access is also offered by many other major automakers including General Motors, BMW, Audi, Saab and Chrysler.

In mid-March, Finnish telecom giant Nokia announced the launch of a Car Connectivity Consortium of 11 companies with common technical standards, including vehicle manufacturers Daimler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

Autonet Mobile, a California-based firm that touts itself as the “first Internet-based telematics and applications service platform” for the auto market, has over 10,000 US customers using its CarFi service at $29 a month, said chief executive Sterling Pratz.

The group recently signed agreements with General Motors and Subaru.

Pratz told AFP that consumers are looking for better entertainment options for passengers in their vehicles and use Wi-Fi for videos, gaming and social networking.

“They feel there is a better way to stay entertained in the car compared with the DVD player. They lead a connected lifestyle and when they get in the car they feel disconnected,” he said.

A next step, Pratz said, is other types of applications that can allow parents to monitor speeds of their teen drivers and to find their car if it is stolen.

Autonet, which started in 2005 and has funding from venture capital firms, only operates in the US market but Pratz says he plans talks with European carmakers and is considering Asia as well.

In Europe, Audi is using a system from Marvell Technology and Harman Automotive to create a factory-installed mobile hotspot, allowing up to eight devices to be connected.

“I believe today’s consumers want the convenience of seamless connectivity and live content whenever and wherever they choose — whether in the home, office, classroom or automobile,” said Weili Dai, Marvell’s co-founder and vice president in announcing the system.

“Finally, the car is connected to the rest of our lives.”

Saab meanwhile has announced its own system based on Google’s Android operating system, dubbed IQon, touted as “a completely new car infotainment user experience.”

The Swedish automaker will allow third-party developers to develop “apps” by accessing 500 signals from different sensors in the vehicle.

“With Saab IQon, there are no limits to the potential for innovation,” said Saab’s Johan Formgren. “We will be inviting the global Android developer community to use their imagination and ingenuity.”

Analysts say the market is likely to grow as more applications become available — for entertainment, navigation or even for diagnostics of the automobile.

Yet a key question for developers of the technology is whether to offer Wi-Fi as a separate data system or allow consumers to bring their own.

Ford’s Wi-Fi system called MyFord Touch, which is added to its SYNC connectivity for mobile phones and music players, offers no separate data plan but instead allows consumers to plug in their own devices — smartphones, tablet computers or wireless cards.

This not only allows consumers to avoid a new data fee but enables easier adaption of a rapidly changing market for wireless devices, said Ford spokesman Alan Hall.

“We created the ability for a customer to bring in their 3G and 4G devices, and the car can take that signal and turn it into a Wi-Fi signal for four or five passengers in the car,” Hall told AFP.

Ford expects to have this Wi-Fi system on 80 percent of its cars sold in North America within four years, Hall said, and is also launching the system globally next year.

Doug Newcomb of the auto research firm Edmunds.com said the Ford strategy appears to make more sense rather than asking customers to pay an additional monthly data subscription.

“Several years ago before smartphones and the iPad, (a separate Wi-Fi system) might have made more sense,” Newcomb said.

“Now, people are saying, ‘If I have an iPad with 3G why would I need this in the car, why should I pay for another data plan?’… I think the focus now will be how to incorporate the smartphone into the vehicle.”

Who said? Rob Lever said ;).

Written by Syafirul Ramli>>

March 29, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Posted in Android, Google

China’s WoPhone to compete with iOS and Android OS ;).

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China Unicom, one of China’s three largest wireless operators, plans to introduce its own mobile operating system to compete head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android OS in China.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the wireless operator, which is building a third-generation wireless network that competes with China Mobile and China Telecom, is developing a new mobile OS brand known as WoPhone.

The new operating system is based on Linux, and it’s geared toward mobile handsets and tablets. Companies that plan to build devices using the new OS include China’s ZTE, Huawei Technologies and TCL. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, US-based Motorola, and Taiwan’s HTC are also building devices using the new OS, China Unicom’s parent company, China United Network Communications Group, said in a statement on Monday.

For more on this story, read China Unicom to take on Apple, Google with OS on CNET News

Who said? Marguerite Reardon said ;).

Written by Syafirul Ramli>>

March 25, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Smart Phone OS Breakdown: Pretty Colors Edition ;).

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Now this is how you make a chart. Cold hard facts and figures are already irresistible, but Nielsen has done one better by organizing data about  US smart phone subscribers into attractive, colorful infographics. The chart shows the distribution of mobile operating systems by manufacturer, which gives Apple and RIM some nice big bars for their respective platforms. With their iPhone and Blackberry products, each company controls 27% of the US smartphone market. HTC is the next most successful manufacturer, with a 12% market share for its Android devices and 7% for its Windows Phone 7 handsets.

When considering OS penetration, Android managed to squeak past the iPhone and Blackberry marketshare with a leading 29% cut. Windows Phone 7 isn’t doing too badly for itself–10% seems like a decent portion of the market for such a young OS. A second chart, posted below, demonstrates the smart phone breakdown by age.

These results are remarkably even–while Windows Phone 7, webOS and Symbian obviously post smaller numbers, almost every bar shows a pretty consistent distribution of phones among age groups. Android has a 2% advantage in the 18-24 range, while RIM has a modest 1% edge among 45-54-year-olds.

Who said? Wesley Fenlon said ;).

Written by Syafirul Ramli>>

March 24, 2011 at 10:00 AM

RIM, Nokia, DoCoMo united against Google’s menace ;).

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Google [1]’s growing influence in the mobile [2] industry is clearly proving worrisome to some established device makers and operators, a few of whom put up a united front against the search giant during a round table at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Wednesday.

Leaders of Research In Motion, Nokia, and NTT DoCoMo talked about their strategies for working together to face the threat.

[ iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android? Whatever handheld you use or manage, turn to InfoWorld for the latest developments. Subscribe to InfoWorld’s Mobilize newsletter [3] today. ]

Nokia is aiming for “an environment where the relationship between the services providers, handset manufacturers, and operators are in an appropriate balance,” said Stephen Elop, Nokia’s CEO. “Our philosophy is to be the most operator friendly,” he said.

Google presents a conundrum for some of the established companies in the mobile industry. Its Android [4] software helped hardware makers such as Motorola turn around their fortunes and has helped operators sell more data contracts. But other phone makers, like Nokia, opted not to use Android [5] for fear that the platform would corner too much of the market and stifle innovation.

Google is also offering lots of services to mobile users that mobile operators would prefer to offer.

“What’s most important for the network operators is how to avoid being reduced to a dumb pipe,” said Ryuji Yamada, president and CEO of NTT DoCoMo. “We are susceptible more than ever to the risk of becoming a dump pipe … and we are determined to avoid that by all means.”

He said one way to avoid that fate is for operators to offer intelligent services from the cloud. But the example he gave is a DoCoMo service that translates languages, similar to one that Google demonstrated at this same conference last year, noted Ben Wood, an analyst with CCS Insight.

Yamada acknowledged that such services can be offered by third parties but didn’t say much about how the operator might beat out Google. “It’s a race between these two different camps,” he said. “Being the network operator, we are in the best position to know what the network is capable of.”

RIM [6] appears to be working hard to try to help operators ward off competition from the likes of Google and others. “There may have to be a Google translation service and a Nokia location service but at the end of the day it better be a DoCoMo service overarching [that directs customers] to their bill and branding and distribution or the alternative is a bit pipe with a programmable SIM,” RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said.

RIM this week rolled out some new capabilities aimed at helping operators hold on to their relationships with customers. For instance, it offers the capability for operators to let customers “gift” applications or airtime to others, with the charges showing up on their mobile bill. RIM also announced that Telefónica and Vodafone would start letting users pay for applications from the RIM application store on their regular bills.

Operators want to bill customers because they think it helps build a relationship with users and because it could allow for new sources of revenue. With Apple and Android, for instance, most end users pay for apps with their credit cards through the respective application stores and so the operator doesn’t get a share of the revenue from apps.

These days, any time a CEO from a company that provides services to end users meets with an operator, the operator is trying to size up the goals of that company, Balsillie said. The operators are wondering if they can trust the company and if its business model has a sustainable business structure for the operator, he said.

“The structure of the industry is very much in flux,” Balsillie said. He said the issue of what role the operator will play is the most relevant issue of the industry currently.

Who said? Nancy Gohring said ;).

Written by Syafirul Ramli>>

February 17, 2011 at 1:51 PM

2011 will be the year Android explodes ;).

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Ever-improving networks and a big hardware announcement that will send handset prices plummeting both point to smartphone growth in 2011 that could totally eclipse anything we’ve seen before.

Smartphones have been growing at an unbelievable clip over the past year but they still account for only around a third of all phones in the US and an even smaller percentage internationally.  In developing countries, the price of smartphones, aside from some ‘quasi-smart’ Nokias (NOK) are out of reach for all but the elite. India and China each have billion plus populations and growing middle classes, but neither country is even at a 10% market penetration of smartphones.

Globally, market intelligence firm IDC counted 269.6 million smartphones sold this year, compared to the 173.5 million units shipped in 2009.

In 2011, we might see half a billion phones sold worldwide.  Smartphones will likely blow by traditional computers next year as the way most of the world gains access to the Internet.

Two major factors will drive this, in tandem: Wireless infrastructure is getting better every day, and hardware is getting cheaper.  Cheaper hardware will eliminate the need for subsidies and therefore will improve competition between carriers, and spur them to improve their networks.  Google (GOOG) Android head Andy Rubin calls this a ‘perfect storm‘ for smartphone adoption.

A closer look at price: In 2010, the cheapest mainstream Smartphone was just below $200(unsubsidized by a carrier contract– the way most of the world buys its phones). Some extremely cheap (but feature rich) Chinese brands have recently fallen to around $150. But based on the hardware announcements we’re seeing, including one big player in particular that price will be cut in half:

 

Broadcom (BRCM)  last week announced its BCM2157 – Mass-Market 3G HSDPA “Android” Baseband chipset.  The platform provides everything a modern smartphone builder needs: a dual core ARM processor, Bluetooth, GPS, support for up to a 5-megapixel camera, support for capacitive HVGA (320×480 like iPhone 3GS) or or WQVGA (~240×400) displays.  That’s pretty much your current baseline Android smartphone, like the Samsung Intercept.

The chipset will work on AT&T (T) and T-Mobile’s 3G networks in the US and on global GSM providers.

It is interesting to note that Broadcom is marketing this hardware specifically at Android OEMs, though theoretically any smartphone OS could be built on top of it.  Android is clearly the platform for growth on the low end.

I had a chance to speak with Jim Tran, VP/GM – Handset Line of Business for Broadcom, who was able to elaborate on the details of the new processor and what it meant for the industry.  Here are some of Broadcom’s bullet points:

  • The BCM2157 baseband, since it combines many functions on one chip, is able to run more efficiently, meaning less battery power will be needed than on current basic handsets
  • Low-cost, low-power, 65 nm digital CMOS process means the silicon will be cheap
  • The dual-core processors will run at 500-800mhz.
  • Supports portable Wifi hotspot and Android 2.2 and up

But the kicker is the price.  Tran says that phones made from the BCM2157 chipset will retail for under $100 and may dip as low as $75.  Those devices should debut in just 3-6 months (and we might hear about them next month at CES).

By this time next year, Broadcom says it will release a follow-up chip that will allow WVGA displays and as much power as today’s high-end Smartphones at the same $75-$100 prices.  That Nexus S that costs $530 now off contract will cost just a fraction of that in just one year.

Broadcom isn’t the only chipmaker taking aim at this new market.  There is another chipmaker out of China building the same type of chipset for 3G EVDO Rev. A, the type of network that Sprint and Verizon use.  They also say that they can get retail prices below $100.

To be clear, That sub $100 price is not the cost of materials, it is the suggested retail price after the manufacturers (and carriers) have taken their profits.

Those prices will have many feature phone users saddling up with smartphones. And they may open the emerging Asian markets, like India and China, to smartphone customers on a large scale, for the first time ever. That means many more smartphone users and many more Google and Android users, too.

How cheap smartphones change the American cell phone market

Perhaps more importantly, at $100, many first-world shoppers will forgo the subsidized two year contracts and instead choose month to month plans.  That price point takes the power away from the carriers.  If T-Mobile is having a special and I can just take my AT&T phone over without being hit with early termination fees, the carriers are much more likely to compete for customers.

That, in turn will likely push data prices down.  We are already starting to see this happen.  Virgin offers a $25/month unlimited data plan off contract.  T-Mobile offers a limited $10 date plan off contract.  AT&T has tiers that start very low.

Consumers used to feature phone monthly costs of $30/month may even opt to forgo wireless data altogether, instead choosing to use the smartphone’s built in Wifi radio to surf near-ubiquitous Wifi in homes, at work and about town.  To entice low end smartphone users away from just using Wifi, carriers will have to make affordable data plans.

Cheap smartphones could change the way carriers price contracts here in the U.S.

Whatever the case, if you thought Android going from 30,000 activations a day to 300,000 activations/day was impressive, 2011 might be an even bigger growth year for Android.

Growth targets are just starting to trickle out, but HTC, who make high end Android devices and a few Windows Phone 7 devices expect to triple their 2010 output in 2011. Yet if things play out the way Rubin, Google, Broadcom and HTC hope, even that may wind up being a conservative estimate for Android growth. What’s most interesting is that unless Apple (AAPL) has a plan to keep up, their iPhone, once one of the only usable smartphone games in town, may wind up back where most Apple products are slotted– at the top of the market, affordable only to those willing and able to pay a premium for Steve Jobs’ aesthetic sensibilities.

 

Who said? Seth Weintraub said ;).

Written by Syafirul Ramli>>

February 17, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Posted in Android, Google

Screenshot Tour of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Built for Tablets ;).

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Screenshot Tour of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Built for TabletsGoogle gave us a glimpse of Android 3.0 Honeycomb earlier this year, but today they released more details on the upcoming OS. Here’s a look through what we can expect. Spoiler alert: It’s awesome, and it fixes many of Android’s biggest annoyances.

The Tablet UI

The biggest change in Android 3.0 is the general layout of the UI. Since it’s built specifically for tablets, you have much more space on your home screen for icons and widgets. This is a pretty stark contrast to the iPad, which just enlarged the iPhone’s 4×4 grid with big, spaced out icons—as you can see in the screenshot above, you actually have a much denser grid than you would on an Android phone, meaning you can pack a whole lot of stuff into one home screen.

The Notification Bar

Screenshot Tour of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Built for Tablets

The notification bar has been moved to the bottom of the screen, and they’ve added a few navigation buttons to it that seem to take the place of the capacative hardware buttons we all know and love on our Android phones. The three buttons, from left to right, are Back, Home, and Recent Apps. The new recent apps window is pretty handy, taking advantage of the extra space to show you the current state of each running app.

The Home Screens

Screenshot Tour of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Built for TabletsThe home screens themselves are pretty similar to regular Android as far as functionality—you can add app shortcuts and widgets wherever you want, swipe between five different screens, and expand your app drawer to access anything not already on the home screens. That said, the entire thing has this new 3D look to it that’s really awesome (which we caught a glimpse of in our first look). As long as the hardware can keep up with the new UI, it’ll be pretty awesome (we all remember how laggy the original Motorola Droid was).

The Action Bar

Screenshot Tour of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Built for Tablets

Probably the most welcome change in the new UI, however, is what Google is calling the Action Bar. In every application, the top bar is reserved for contextual options, navigation, or other buttons. The Email app, for example, has a new message button and a refresh button at the top. When you select a message, that action bar changes to display a move to folder button, a mark as read button, a star message button, and a delete button. Of course, it also has dropdown menus for any buttons that overflow off to the side.

Why is this so awesome? These are the kinds of buttons that, on the 2.0 cycle of Android, are usually buried in menus that you access with your phones Menu button. Now, instead of having to hit Menu (and God forbid a “More” button), those options will be available right at the top of your screen. Really, this is one of my biggest complaints about Android, and it makes me wonder why we don’t have this action bar in 2.x, too.

Keyboard and Copy/Paste

The new soft keyboard is an improvement over the iteration we’re all familiar with, including larger, reshaped keys for easier targeting. What’s cooler is that it also includes some keys we’re more familiar with on full keyboards, like Tab, which will make us desktop users more comfortable.

Screenshot Tour of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Built for Tablets

Copy and paste on Android has never been the most friendly feature, but 3.0 takes a step in the right direction by making it a much faster affair: just long-press on any text and it will select that word. From there, you can drag the selection area to include more text. The action bar will also show Select All, Cut, Copy and Share buttons while you’re selecting text too, which is fantastic (seriously, why isn’t that action bar in Android already?). Overall, working with text in Android 3.0 is going to be a much more pleasant experience.

Tablet-Optimized Core Apps

Screenshot Tour of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Built for Tablets

There aren’t any Google apps in the SDK (like Gmail or Google Talk), but the non-Google core apps like the Browser, Camera, Contacts, and Email have all been updated to more efficiently use the extra space you’ll get with a tablet. The browser has tabs built in (hallelujah!), bookmark syncing with Chrome (double hallelujah!), Incognito mode (ahem), and automatic sign in to Google sites using the Google account tied to your device. I don’t need to tell you guys how cool all these features are. These are usually things we have to download an alternate browser for, both on Android and iOS. This is a big step forward.

Screenshot Tour of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Built for Tablets

The other core apps aren’t quite as revolutionary, but still nicely redesigned. The camera app is definitely cool (see above), and the Contacts and Email app are basically two-pane versions of the same apps we already know and love—not unlike the difference between the iPhone and iPad versions of Contacts and Mail in iOS. They’re a good use of space, but nothing revolutionary (unless you’re counting the aforementioned action bar that I still can’t get over).


The most recent Android 3.0 SDK and screenshots over at the Android Developers site barely scratch the surface of the brand new OS, but I gotta say, it looks really exciting. I’m a happy iPad user that, until today, was 100% uninterested in an Android tablet, but I’ve eaten my words for breakfast. Plus, a lot of these features fix some of Android’s biggest annoyances, so if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll get to see some of them in the smartphone versions of Android. Here’s hoping.

What do you guys think? Do you like the look of the new Android OS, or do you still have reservations about Android tablets? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Android 3.0 Platform Highlights [Android Developers]

 

Who said? Whitson Gordon said ;).

Written by Syafirul Ramli>>

February 2, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Posted in Android, Google, Mobile OS

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